In his book, The Imperial Presidency, Arthur Schlesinger recounts the rise of the presidency as it grew into the imperial, powerful position that it is today. His writing reflects a belief that the presidency is becoming too powerful and that very few people are making a real effort to stop it. He analyzes the back and forth struggle for power between Congress and the
Presidency. Schlesinger breaks up the first half of the book chronologically. He begins by discussing the areas concerning the presidency where the founding fathers agreed and also the areas where they disagreed. He then goes on to analyze the rise of the imperial presidency through war and recovery, with emphasis on the events of the twentieth century. After the war in Vietnam,
Schlesinger divides the book based on the specific nature of the events that had an impact on presidential power. He divides it based on domestic policy, foreign policy, and the affairs that go on in secrecy. Schlesinger provides an incredible amount of evidence to recount the ups and downs of the imperial presidency. He provides a base for his argument with an in-depth view of what the framers intended and how they set the stage for development over the next two centuries. An issue that Schlesinger focuses on is the presidents ability to make war. The decisions of the founders in this area would have a huge impact on the power contained in the office of the president.
The consensus amongst the framers was that the president, as Commander in Chief, had the ability to defend the United States and its interests, but the ability to declare war was vested in the Congress. This decision set the stage for the struggles between the president and congress. He also discussed the debate over the power institutionalized in the presidency. At the time, there were two schools of thought on the subject. Hamilton supported an active president, while
Jefferson argued in favor of a passive president. The
Bibliography: Imperial Presidency Arthur Schlesinger Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston 1973 copyright © 1973 by Arthur Schlesinger 505 pp. Presidential Power Richard Neustadt Simon & Schuster copyright © 1986 by Macmillan College Publishing Company, Inc